Have you lost track of all the names the New York Jets have brought in for interviews in their search for a general manager to replace Mike Tannenbaum?
The Jets have scheduled interviews with 49ers personnel director Tom Gamble, Falcons director of player personnel David Caldwell and Giants college scouting director Marc Ross. They've recently requested permission to interview Dolphins assistant GM Brian Gaine (via the Star-Ledger) and Chargers director of pro personnel Jimmy Raye (via NFL Network). They also interviewed in-house candidate Scott Cohen.
It's been quite the process (one last hat tip to Tannenbaum), but why so many names, and why (seemingly) no progress?
It could be that the Jets are simply doing their diligence. That's exactly what owner Woody Johnson said he would do at the Jets' end-of-season press conference on Tuesday.
As they say, "when the process is over, it’s over." We’ll keep looking until we find somebody that we’re comfortable with that fits our vision of where we want to take this team.
That's the admirable thing to do when filling such an important position. That being said, they could miss an opportunity by waiting too long and investigating too many options. Caldwell accepted the job as Jaguars GM on Wednesday (via NFL Network).
He may not have been the front-runner in the Jets' opinion, but what's to say one of their top candidates won't accept another job before the Jets make a decision?
Woody Johnson said:
All I can say is that the people we’re talking to, the candidates we’re talking to, are exceptionally good and each one of them bring something different, as well as internal candidates. So I’m very encouraged by what I’m seeing so far.
There are a lot of solid candidates out there, and obviously the Jets agree if they have conducted so many interviews. At some point, the music is going to stop and GMs are going to start scrambling for the open seats.
Now the second part of the possible issue: will any of them want to sit in the Jets chair?
One issue that's certainly right at the forefront is the Jets' bewildering salary cap situation, which has them poised to be $19 million over the salary cap before making any roster moves this offseason. That being said, there are some moves the Jets could make to get themselves under the cap. Those moves, as reported by ESPN:
As soon as the waiver period opens in February, the Jets will clear $30.7 million off their salary cap in less time than it takes to hail a cab in New York. They will release LB Calvin Pace ($8.56 million savings), LB Bart Scott ($7.15 million), OT Jason Smith ($12 million) and S Eric Smith ($3 million). Those moves will result in only $4.5 million in dead money.
That would save them a lot of money in theory, but the Jets' quarterback situation could be enough to scare off some GMs.
With $8.25 million tied up in Mark Sanchez, and a $17 million cap hit if he's cut, most GMs may not like being so hamstrung right out of the gate.
That being said, there are also some positives to taking the job.
There are a few building blocks in place, with cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold. The lack of other building blocks means that the next general manager will have a grace period to get things on track—2013 could be a rebuilding year for the Jets.
Obviously, none of the openings are all that "good," or else they wouldn't be openings—the previous people would still be employed. That being said, how many prospective GMs will be anxious to work with head coach Rex Ryan? Most new general managers want to appoint their own guy, and although Woody Johnson indicated it hasn't been a problem as of Tuesday, it may not be an issue until the candidates are at home weighing out their options.
It also doesn't seem like the search is well-organized. The Jets brought in a private firm to help them conduct the search, but former NFL pro scouting director Mike McCartney took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the names he's heard for the next Jets GM:
#Jets hired a search firm for their GM job, but it sure seems the search firm is just contacting candidates after reading about them.— Mike McCartney (@MikeMcCartney7) January 9, 2013
Better way to say this: Search firm for #Jets GM seems to be reacting to twitter before they contact candidates— Mike McCartney (@MikeMcCartney7) January 9, 2013
It would be unfair to characterize the search as a failure without first seeing the result, and without knowing what's actually at work here. As much as Tannenbaum has been vilified by those in New York, there's something to be said for his philosophy of leaving no stone unturned.
There's also something to be said for being decisive, knowing a fit when you see one and not being afraid to pull the trigger.
There are plenty of good options for the next general manager, and the Jets need to make the best pick of the candidates that are available before their options begin to dwindle.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.